Rural Connections Webinar #2 - Vision for The Future of Rural Areas

Rural Connections. Webinar series for knowledge exchange with EU Rural projects, is a set of three webinars involving RURITAGE and a group of European rural projects. The main objective of this series is to exchange knowledge and best practices between EU projects working on different aspects related to rural development, with the view to support RURITAGE partners in the implementation of their rural regeneration action plans.

Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA) is a four-year project (2019-2023) with 17 partners funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. The project aims to gather knowledge that contributes to the formulation of recommendations for future policies relevant to EU rural areas, by creating a science-society-policy interface.

Funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, RURALIZATION gathers 18 partners from 12 different countries including not only research organizations but also partners that implement innovative practices, such as members of the Access to Land network. This diversity will guarantee a wide range of perspectives and situations thus ensuring the project will formulate solutions and recommendations which respond to the diverse needs and features of rural areas in Europe.

Landscape Valorisation. A driver of rural regeneration

On the 30th of April, we talked about the contribution of landscape valorisation to rural regeneration activities. Rural landscapes of Europe are products of a thousand-year-old collaboration between human society and nature. They are the result of natural and cultural processes, telling the history of ancestors and originally setting the cultural premises of a territory. Although in rural areas the main economic activity is often agriculture, these regions are increasingly becoming more attractive places for people to live, work and visit. Rural areas are also the home of vital ecosystem services, biodiversity and habitats for many threatened species which makes them areas of excellence for nature tourism. Maintaining a balance between protecting, conserving and redeveloping heritage values of the rural landscape is the premise for achieving rural regeneration.

In this webinar you will have the chance to explore the success cases of managing the manorial landscape of Austratt (Norway); the Douro cultural landscape (Portugal-Spain); the Wild Atlantic Way (Ireland) which is the longest defined coastal touring route in the world and the ongoing regeneration process of the Bakircay Basin of Izmir, Turkey.

Rural Connections Webinar #1 - Rural tourism and marketing

Rural Connections. Webinar series for knowledge exchange with EU Rural projects, is a set of three webinars involving RURITAGE and a group of European rural projects. The main objective of this series is to exchange knowledge and best practices between EU projects working on different aspects related to rural development, with the view to support RURITAGE partners in the implementation of their rural regeneration action plans.
SmartCultour project will present the tools being used to identify needs and good practices around developing sustainable cultural tourism on the local level.
EUROPETOUR project will demonstrate the urgency for interdisciplinary cooperation and the importance of valorising the intellectual property rights.
SPOT project will illustrate an ongoing collaboration with Regional DMO, local DMO and the local Tourist Observatory (LMR).
IMPACTOUR will demonstrate how cultural tourism is leading to sustainable economic and social development; present policies, governance and business models that are being used to promote cultural tourism as well as tools for cultural tourism impact assessment to foster and forecast impact of tourism strategies.

Local Food. A drivers of Rural Regeneration

On the 12th of March, we talked about the contribution of local food to rural regeneration activities.

Food and gastronomy embody agricultural practices, landscape, local history and traditions, symbolizing the cultural heritage of a territory and are becoming ever more relevant in improving the economic and environmental sustainability of both tourism and agriculture. Food serves as a strong connection between nature and human society bringing together land, heritage and the people. It is a diverse and dynamic channel for sharing stories, forming relationships and building communities. Emphasizing a landscape with edible experiences creates an authentic ‘taste of place’. In the context of RURITAGE, several partners have been developing their local food potential and through it, regenerating their rural areas.

At the foothills of the Andes in Colombia, what is considered to be, the world’s softest coffee is grown and produced. The cultural landscape of Colombian coffee production was recognized as a Cultural Landscape by UNESCO in 2011 due to its remarkable example of human adaption to complex geographic conditions. These fields have come to symbolize the tradition of coffee growing worldwide. The Federación Colombiana de Municípios will join this webinar to tell their experience in sustainable coffee production.

At the “heel” of Italy’s boot, the region of Apulia has been able to successfully combine the local natural and cultural heritage with innovation and technology. By establishing policies aimed for innovative development together with investment incentives, the growth of local production systems has increased attracting a high number of international industrial groups, leading to a tourism boost and increasing job offers. Our partners from DARE – Distretto Tecnologico Agroalimentare, will share their experience in collaborating with researchers, smaller business and stakeholders within the agri-food sector.

Magma UNESCO Global Geopark is located in southwest Norway, covering five municipalities. The landscape is formed by gentle slope tilted towards the coast and interrupted by hundreds of small valleys and over 6,000 lakes. With little soil, the agriculture in the area is based on fishing, sheep and cattle farming. Magma Geopark will share their experience in of supporting and enhancing local food production through development of products and branding gained while participating in RURITAGE.

Arts & Festivals. Drivers for Rural Regeneration

On the 3rd of February, we talked about the contribution of culture to rural regeneration activities.

The contribution that culture can make in regeneration activities, as demonstrated by numerous city ‘capitals of culture’ examples, can be applied in its own way to rural areas. A vibrant arts and festivals programme, within a rural context, is an opportunity for rural communities to express their unique identity, to express their self-confidence and connection to each other and their appreciation and celebration of their area. The arts and festivals sectors provide employment opportunities, are related to the broader creative industries which are a major economic driver and when carefully harnessed can contribute to green tourism profiling the distinctive characteristics of an area through its local culture.

During this webinar, several RURITAGE partners shared their arts and festival experiences.

The Role of Pilgrimage Routes in Rural Regeneration

On the 27th of November, we talked about the role of Pilgrimage routes in rural regeneration.

Pilgrimage may be the earliest and perhaps, the leading future form of rural tourism. Heritage routes to sacred and historical places are a driver for sustainable and economic growth in many rural areas. Indeed, some observers describe ‘route tourism’ as the world’s best hope for securing sustainability in travel and tourism. Rediscovering local cultural and natural heritage (CNH) along pilgrimage routes poses great opportunities for less explored areas to gain recognition. In areas suffering from population decline and closing services, heritage routes can create new opportunities for growth, through key drivers such as tourism, cultural and natural heritage preservation and promotion.

During this webinar, several RURITAGE partners shared their experience in restoring heritage routes. Experts from ACIR Compostelle  introduced the Pilgrimage concept with a focus on rural areas, to demonstrate that heritage routes can lead to sustainable rural development and better territorial cooperation.

Partners French Santiago Way through Castilla & Leon in Spain and Via Marie in Romania – shared their good practices on the promotion and preservation of pilgrimage routes. Representatives from UNESCO Global Geopark Geopark Karavanke/Karawanken provided insights on how they capitalize on RURITAGE methodologies to use CNH as a sustainable tool to combine old traditions and the modern world along the Pilgrimage route to Hemmaberg.

See the webinar here

Breakfast@Sustainability's: Cultural & Natural Heritage for regional Smart Specialisation Strategies

On November 17th 2020, ICLEI Europe hosted the 35th Breakfast at Sustainability’s, focusing on Cultural & Natural Heritage for regional Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3).

The event was organised in the context of RURITAGE and brought together representatives of EU institutions, cultural experts, regional officers and rural stakeholders, to discuss the unexplored potential of combining Smart Specialisation with Cultural & Natural Heritage (CNH).

As Europe’s regions are revising their RIS3 for the new programming period
(2021-2027), and as the European Commission is setting ambitious goals for a green recovery, it was a timely moment to revisit how investment in Research & Innovation for CNH can contribute to building a sustainable future for all.

The event counted with the participation of several speakers, including Professor Simona Tondelli, RURITAGE’s coordinator.


  • Laurent de Mercey, European Commission, Unit Smart and Sustainable Growth (DG REGIO)
  • Alessandro Rainoldi, Head of Unit, Territorial Development, Joint Research Centre (European Commission)
  • Maciej Hofman. Policy Officer, Culture – Cultural and creative sectors (DGEAC)
  • Prof. Luigi Fusco Girard, Associate Professor at IRISS – Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development (Italy)
    Gumersindo Bueno Benito, General Director for Cultural Heritage, Region of Castilla y León (Spain)
  • Gabriela Macoveiu, Director of the Communication, Innovation and External Cooperation Department at the North-East Regional Development Agency (Romania)
  • Prof. Simona Tondelli, Full Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Bologna, RURITAGE Project Coordinator

Recordings of the webinar are available here and the event report can be downloaded here.

Cultural and Natural Heritage as a tool for rural regeneration and social inclusion of migrants

During this webinar, several RURITAGE partners shared their experience in building more inclusive and diverse communities. Experts from UNIBO Planning and Regeneration research group introduced the Migration holistic concept with focus on rural areas, to demonstrate that it is possible to contribute to the social inclusion of marginal communities, migrants and refugees. Partners from RURITAGE Migration Role Models – PIAM Onlus in Italy and the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest in Greece – shared their good practices on migrant’s hospitality and integration. Representatives from the Geo-Naturpark Bergstrasse-Odenwald (UNESCO Global Geopark) in Germany, one of the 6 RURITAGE Replicators, provided insights on how they capitalize from RURITAGE methodologies to use CNH as a sustainable tool to boost migrant’s integration in the area.


See the webinar here

Cultural and Natural Heritage as a driver for Resilience in rural areas

During the webinar on 9th of October 2020 at 13:30 (CET), several RURITAGE partners shared their experience in building more resilient communities. Experts from UNESCO’s Section on Earth Sciences and Geo-Hazards Risk Reduction introduced the Resilience holistic concept with focus on rural areas. Partners from RURITAGE Resilience Role Models – Katla (Iceland) and Psiloritis (Greece) UNESCO Global Geoparks – shared their good practices on risk education and awareness. Representatives from the Italian community of Appignano del Tronto, a RURITAGE Resilience Replicator, provided insights on how they capitalize from RURITAGE methodologies to reinforce their own territory based on their natural and cultural heritage.

See the webinar here

Thinking beyond the COVID-19 crisis: heritage-based opportunities for rural regeneration

Which opportunities for the future of rural areas after the COVID-19? How to turn challenges into opportunities to enhance permanent social resilience in rural areas?

On the 8th of July, RURITAGE experts discussed this issue with representatives from the EU Commission, the Council of Europe, and the European Network for Rural Development.

Below you may find the full presentations from the speakers:

Simona Tondelli, project Coordinator, UNIBO: RURITAGE EU vision paper

Stefano Dominioni, Council of Europe, Cultural Route programme (CoE): The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme. Tools for rural regeneration in the post-Covid 19 context

Flavio Conti, European Network of Rural Development, ENRD: Rural responses to the COVID-19 crisis in Europe

Giulia Facelli, DG RTD, European Commission, and Victoria Beaz-Hidalgo, EASME, European Commission: R&I and Horizon 2020 initiatives to tackle COVID-19 crisis

Maciej W. Hofman, DG EAC, European Commission: EU cultural policy and culture in rural areas: current topics and upcoming initiatives

Helen Williams, DG AGRI, European Commission: Overview of Commission Coronavirus response initiatives relevant for agriculture and rural areas

Innovative Methodology for Heritage Management and Planning

First public RURITAGE webinar on Methodology for Heritage Management and Planning. During a 90-minute webinar, our experts Claudia de Luca (University of Bologna) and Javier Lopez (Consulta Europa) talked about how natural and cultural heritage can be used as an engine for regeneration.

Heritage-led strategies for rural regeneration

Following last January’s first webinar that presented the innovative RURITAGE methodology for heritage-led regeneration strategies, in this second edition, the overall approach of the project was presented and participants had the chance to know our partners, learn more about the methodology and have a first-hand insight into what it was achieved so far in our path to transform rural areas in sustainable development demonstration “laboratories”.

Good Practices and Knowledge Building

Following the second webinar that presented the overall approach of the project, the third public webinar focused on the innovative strategy of knowledge building & sharing for rural space that RURITAGE is implementing.

How to build and implement heritage-led regeneration strategies

On previous webinars, participants were presented to the overall approach of the project and the RURITAGE's methodology for heritage-led regeneration. A first-hand insight into what was achieved so far and the process for Knowledge Building and Transfer was also presented. The latter includes the analysis and systematization of best practices and lessons learnt, collected amongst the project's participants.
In this fourth webinar, the focus was on the next step of our methodology: supporting rural areas in capitalizing that knowledge to design and implement sound and valuable heritage-led regeneration strategies. This process is done through a co-development approach, based on several workshops and activities aimed at engaging stakeholders and targeted to design an action plan.
A co-implementation phase is now underway, where the designed strategies are applied and monitored to ensure their success. The objective is to contribute for the development of a deep sense of ownership and responsibility amongst the inhabitants of rural areas, mainly through engagement and collaboration with local stakeholders who represent key players in this task.